Oil Paintings, Prints, & Websites since 1998
PaulB.com is the official site for California Oil Painter Paul Berenson. During his years as a prominent Santa Barbara radio personality, oil painting has always been the primary focus of his life. While not painting for any particular taste or style, he studied the paintings and color theory of Vincent van Gogh where Vincent explains to his brother, "It's certain that by studying the laws of colours one can move from an instinctive belief in the great masters to being able to account for why one likes what one likes, and that's very necessary nowadays when one considers how terribly arbitrarily and superficially people judge." Paying close attention to the variety of strong colors to accent the masses and give the illusion of motion, Paul Berenson pays tribute to pointillism like Claude Monet, with it's emphasis of the mixture of colored light in the eye when seen at a distance. On this website the effect of distance is achieved when the painting is shrunk to a thumbnail, where you simply see the picture as a whole with none of the detail of the actual painting. Click on the thumbnail and you see the strongly colored shadows, accents and more. If you click on the caption you will go to the gallery the painting is in.
Previous posts are on the Paul's Blog page. I retouched the painting of Mt. Shasta again today. I'll post the finished painting soon. Like van Gogh, one of the main reasons I paint is to leave souvenirs. I've had a pretty good life to here and the way I celebrate is to leave paintings of the good, bad, and the ugly. The latter usually has to do with violent surf, twisted figures, and the like. When people ask me WHAT I paint I say whatever interests me, from a beautiful sunset, to ballet, samba, football, or flowers. One of my favorite things was sitting on the floor under the basket at UCLA basketball games. I painted several action figures, and even the cheerleaders. When I was young I wanted to do something artistic SO bad. I met rock musician Alex "Skip" Spence and we became best of friends. I like to say that everything I have that makes life worth living I got from Skip Spence and a whole lot of work. One thing he impressed upon me was the value of work. He told me that John Mayall made Eric Clapton because he made him sit and play his guitar 6-8 hours a day. When I became a painter, I read the same thing from van Gogh, Delacroix and others. Although it's not popular anymore, I spent a year or more learning the fundamentals, like drawing, tonal values, which van Gogh REALLY stressed, and doing it 7-10 hours EVERY DAY. That was 1974 and when I look around today I see the value of what I learned from those Masters, and the value of all the work. As Schopenhauer said, "the best knows himself to be the best because he sees the superficiality of the rest." When I hear or read that there is no quality in art and it's totally subjective, I see that all around, but as van Gogh said in comparing the Art Business with the Dutch Tulip Trade, "I prefer to be a small gardener who loves his flowers." I made that decision in 1974, have been true to it to this day and have never regretted it for a second.
HOW IT'S DONE
In 1973, Berenson read The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh including #536 two #537, where Vincent explains to his brother HOW he gets the color effects. Like van Gogh and Monet, Paul Berenson breaks complementary colors into each other to form a neutralish tone of greater or lesser value to use as an under painting and to lighten, darken, and harmonize his base colors. For example, violet is the darkest secondary color, yellow is it's complement and the lightest of the primary colors. When mixed together they form yellowish violets and violetish yellows. Add white to lighten these and you have what Eugene Delacroix called "…a dust tone that is the universal halftint" for lightening, add more of a blackish tone, and use that to darken, or better yet, add a dark red tone on top of a green passage to darken and get lively and colorful shadows which kill each other at a distance.
In 1998 Paul Berenson began building websites at PaulB.com. After experimenting with building his first couple sites he attended extensive website development courses at UCSB Extension. While there he teamed up with designer Luciana Frechette, and they landed a number of sites through his advertising with KDB. Continuing through the years, PaulB supplemented his radio income with the website development. In 2009 Paul Berenson joined the LA Web Professionals Group, where he has learned cutting edge web development with Joomla, Wordpress, and Drupal Content Management Systems along with Search Engine Optimization, custom database solutions, and email marketing. Need a new website, redesign, or maintenance of an existing site, give us a call at 805-455-9100 or click the tab above.
PAINTING: THE EARLY YEARS
Paul Berenson's interest in art began in 1971 when he drew a portrait in pencil of legendary rock and roll star, Little Richard. Richard saw it, was so impressed that he wanted the picture and Paul happily obliged. Over the next two years Berenson continued to draw and learned how to play the guitar. During many discussions with rock musician friend Skip Spence, Paul learned to DO by finding the best of what came before, and learning to play along until he liked what he played. This was consistent with the advice over the years of Eugene Delacroix, Beethoven, Vincent van Gogh, and many others. Following a trip to the Pacific Northwest in 1973 Berenson decided to pursue painting as a career.
In 1977 Paul moved to Boston to analyze and copy the Masterpieces at The Museum of Fine Arts, while being careful to, as Vincent says, "re-creat[e the picture] in a colour spectrum PARALLEL to, but not necessarily exactly, or far from the same as the subject." While studying the Monet's Berenson learned a form of pointillism, by placing strong colors next to each other, mixing the colors in the eye when seen at a distance. From Delacroix he learned how to compose and construct a picture. Paul Berenson also began experimenting with oil painting outdoors, using subjects from nature.
When he returned to Santa Barbara in 1978 Paul Berenson began painting flower gardens where he had ample opportunity to practice the color theory of The Law of Simultaneous Contrast to juxtapose colors that he learned in Boston to make his vivid colors literally jump off the canvas. In addition he painted many scenes of Santa Barbara, a series of classical figures based on The Lord of the Rings, sports, portraits, and any other pictures of daily life that interested him. All of Berenson's Oil Paintings are finished in his studio, with lighting comparable to how they will be seen.
After exhibiting his oil paintings throughout most of the 1980's, Paul Berenson withdrew from marketing his creative work in the 1990's to pursue a career in radio. Although he was on the air nightly he dedicated his days to painting. His 2000 or so paintings of wide ranging subjects are souvenirs left to celebrate a rich, full life in which he has plumbed the depths of Art. The saying about radio is that the pay's awful but you get a lot of free stuff. While working at KDB and beyond, Paul saw and reviewed all 38 Shakespeare plays, every major ballet company in the world, San Francisco Opera during the 1990's, LA Opera, and much more. Many of these reviews are on this site under "Writings". In sports Berenson got tickets and credentials to LA Kings hockey, the Showtime LA Lakers of the 1980's, including the Championship rounds against the Boston Celtics. Berenson also got courtside press credentials to UCLA Basketball, then a photo pass to sit on the floor under the basket. He did many oil paintings from these games and his photos.
ON WORK AND SACRIFICE
Following the advice of legendary UCLA coach John Wooden that "Nothing will work unless you do," Paul has worked 7-10 hrs a day, 7 days a week, 340-350 days a year since 1974. He also has written a Journal of 72 volumes, "Thoughts", beginning in 1975. Most of The Journal of Paul Berenson is on this website under "Writings". When Berenson first became an oil painter he met an old man painter who told him "If you want to do what you want you need to be prepared to starve your whole life". After many earlier discussions with Skip Spence about Artistic Integrity, Paul Berenson vowed to never compromise his Oil Painting for profit or anything else. 41 years later he has been faithful to that vow. There was never enough time or money to have a family or have a real job to earn a decent living, but he persevered and currently has about 2000 oil paintings. He began exhibiting and marketing on the internet at www.PaulB.com in 1998.